How much does a solar electric system cost? The cost of your solar investment will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and available incentives. To find out what a Solar Trek system will do to your electric bill, get your FREE Solar Quote from Solar Trek today!
Can my electric bill really be $0? Some solar systems produce more electricity than is used each month, bringing net electricity costs to $0. However, there is still a minimal connection fee (typically about $100 per year) to remain connected to the electrical grid.
What incentives are available to me? Solar Trek solar systems sold in the U.S. are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit. Additional state, local and utility incentives exist in many areas, further lowering the net cost of your investment. Browse benefits of solar in your state, or ask a Solar Trek installer about available incentives in your area.
Do I get paid for my extra energy production? Currently, most of America is under a system known as Net Metering, which allows your net electricity costs to be reduced to zero, but no further. In a select few places in the U.S., you can be paid for any excess electricity you create, in what is known as a Feed-In Tariff system.
I don't plan on being in my home for 25 years. Why would I add solar? People move more frequently now than ever before, but that shouldn't impact your solar decision. A solar system can save you money today and even pay for itself in as little as five to seven years. Even if you move before your solar investment is completely paid off, studies show the cost will likely be returned in added value to your home. Plus, your home will most likely sell faster. Who doesn't want a home with a guaranteed low electric bill? Our solar panel warranty is even transferable to the new owner.
SYSTEM DESIGN & PERFORMANCE:
What is the difference between system power output and system energy production? The AC power output of a solar array, measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), is typically given on inverter output displays or remote monitoring sites. It is an instantaneous measurement, determined by the rated DC power output of the solar array, inverter efficiency and system losses, and is proportional to solar irradiance on the array. The AC energy production of a solar array, measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), is measured over periods of months and years to compare with sizing and long-term performance expectations. Solar kWh energy production is also typically given on inverter output displays or remote monitoring sites, and can be compared with a household's total kWh electricity consumption, as seen on a utility bill. Note that for grid-connected PV systems, power generated by the solar PV system will first offset any electrical loads in the house, reducing the number of kWh purchased from the utility.
How many solar panels do I need to offset my electricity consumption? The number of solar panels required will depend on how much electricity you consume, what percentage of this electricity is offset, and the available "solar resource" at your site. A great resource for determining system size, annual production, and providing a rough estimate of system cost and savings for your given location is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) PV Watts calculator. For example, a 5.5 kW system (20 SW 275s) in Los Angeles, CA would produce approximately 8,750 kwh per year, assuming an 84% derating factor (a good derating factor to use for a SolarWorld system with no shading), an array tilt of 20 degrees, and a due south array orientation. This system would save approximately $2000 per year in energy costs assuming a $0.22/kWh average cost of electricity. Go to this website and adjust the values based on the specifics of your site to find out how many solar panels are required to reach your desired annual production.
Why do my solar panels rarely produce their rated power output? Is there a problem with my PV system? Solar panels will typically operate at 75-85% of nameplate DC power rating, even in weather conditions that might be considered "ideal". The nameplate rating of a solar panel is a DC rating measured under factory conditions (cell temperature of 77°F and "perfect sun" conditions of 1000 W/m2). The power output reading seen on an inverter is an AC rating; factors such as DC to AC conversion losses, wiring losses, temperature losses, losses due to shading and dust buildup, and losses due to non-optimal tilt and orientation of the array will affect the instantaneous power output and cumulative energy production of the solar array.
INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE:
I'm interested in installing solar on my home. What's the first step? For a free solar consultation, complete the short form on our contact page. We will collect some basic information and get back to you promptly.
Can I install solar panels myself? It is not recommended. The process requires both licensed electrical and roofing skills to ensure the solar power system is safe and optimally designed for 25+ years of production.
Can my HOA or neighbors prevent me from installing a solar system? In a lot of cases, no. Many states have solar access laws that provide varying degrees of protection against restrictions that can be imposed on you. Your Solar Trek installer will be able to discuss the laws and policies in your area.
How does a solar system affect my roof integrity? With proper design and installation following industry best practices, your roof should maintain all its pre-solar integrity. Solar Trek audits and trains all our Authorized Installers on these best practices so that you can rest easy knowing that your roof will be okay. Be sure to ask your installer about any guarantees they offer on their installation quality.
Is any maintenance needed for my solar PV system? How often should solar panels be cleaned? With limited maintenance, your solar system will operate at peak performance for many years. Cleaning intervals will vary depending on site-specific factors such as annual rainfall, roof tilt (some arrays mounted at steep tilt angles in locations with hard rains will somewhat self-clean), and proximity of factors causing dust or debris on the array (such as trees or a frequently-traveled dirt road). It is best to consult your solar installer for a recommended cleaning schedule. Solar Trek recommends annual servicing to inspect electrical and mechanical connections for cleanliness, tightness, possible damage, and to ensure that the PV system is operating properly. Please see our Cleaning and Maintenance guide for more information.
Is solar a viable option in cold climates? Yes. A general rule of thumb is that if you can clearly see your solar panels, they can produce electricity. In fact, given equal sunlight, a solar panel on a cold day will out-produce a solar panel on a hot day.
Is any maintenance required for snowfall on solar panels? Sites that have substantial snowfall need to be designed to support these additional loads. Some customers may wish to have snow removed from the array to resume normal power production rather than wait for the snow to naturally melt and fall away. Since each site is different, it is best to contact your installer for proper maintenance or servicing. When clearing snow, it is important that large masses of ice or snow do not move suddenly, as they can hurt people or damage equipment. On some sites where safety and access are a challenge it may be best to leave ice and snow alone until they naturally melt and fall away. Please see our Cleaning and Maintenance guide for more information.
How do solar systems fair in extreme weather conditions? Many brands of solar panels can withstand high wind and snow loads. In fact, they are rated higher than any other solar panels under UL standards. In locations with high wind and snow loads, your installer will work with a licensed engineer to properly design the solar panel mounting system. It'll be okay. Be sure to ask your installer about any guarantees they offer on their installation quality.
Does the solar panel warranty transfer with the sale of the home or property? Yes. The solar panel warranty is linked to the serial number of the solar panel itself, not the original purchaser, so there is no need to transfer the warranty when buying or selling a home. However, in order for the solar panel warranty to be valid, the solar panels must be installed according to Solar Trek installation instructions. When buying or selling a home or property, it is recommended to have a Solar Trek Authorized installer come to your site to verify that the system was installed properly.
I just purchased a system with Solar Trek. How do I register the warranty for the panels? There is no need to register the solar panels with Solar Trek in order to validate the warranty, as the warranty is simply tied to the serial number of each solar panel. We do, however, recommend that you keep a record of your solar panel serial numbers, for use in the unlikely event of a future warranty claim. It's best to request a record of the serial numbers prior to installation, so they can be easily accessed.
Where can I find a copy of the warranty? Current solar panel warranties can be downloaded here.
I'm concerned that there is a problem with my solar panels. What should I do? If you suspect that there's a problem with your solar system, the best first step is to contact Solar Trek as we originally installed the system. We will be the most qualified to troubleshoot the PV system and contact the manufacturer of any equipment that may be malfunctioning.
OFF-GRID & HYBRID APPLICATIONS:
Will my system still generate power during a blackout? For the safety of workers attempting to fix power outages, solar systems that are connected to the electrical grid are required by utility regulations to shut off during blackouts. Solar Trek recommends battery backup or traditional generators in places where blackouts occur regularly.
Can I take my home off the electrical grid? Yes, provided you install optional battery-backup systems to provide power when your demands exceed your production, such as at night. While a Solar Trek installer can help you install such a system, it is not typically recommended for several reasons. First, batteries add significant costs to your system, extending your payback period. Second, you may not be eligible for some incentives if you do not connect your system to your utility. Lastly, staying connected to the grid ensures you will rarely ever be without power, unlike batteries that have a limited lifespan and storage capacity.